New Brand Baby

January 30,2008
Skaddadle
Todd Lieman( )

No. Not “brand new baby” – don’t get any hopes up or start looking for the registry. I’m talkin’ “new brand baby.” In other words, even as a something of a professional marketer (in my other life), I’m amazed by the influence of brands on a (not quite) two-and-a-half year-old life. Obviously, this is a reflection on G and me, and our own dedication to “brand,” but…well…two-and-a-half? This evening, as I was getting K-Man dressed to head out for a pre-night-night activity and dinner (more on that awesome activity later, or in another blog), I put on a shirt. It happened to be a Nike shirt. He knew. “Mikey shirt. I want Mikey shirt.” Now, it’s a really cool shirt and he’s cute as hell in it, but I was blown away that he knew this was his “Mikey” shirt. I’m sure that G or I have mentioned it to him when he’s worn it before, but it’s likely just been in passing, “K-Man, wanna wear your Nike shirt?” That’s it. It’s not like we’ve sat down with him to discuss the corporate history of Nike and the meaning of the “swoosh.” (Though, I could, and it wouldn’t be so bad to hear the tale of a billionaire, would it? Hmmmm…) Anyway, the point is that I never realized how brand loyal K-Man is, but he’s all about brand. There are the obvious brands that are merely costumed in education. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, when kids are begging for Elmo dolls, Elmo backpacks, Elmo clothes and even Elmo soup, is there much difference between Elmo and say “Joe Camel?” (Yes, of course, there’s a difference, Elmo’s not selling cancer sticks, but he is just as commercial and he’s just as interested in dealing goods to kids.) Of course, it doesn’t stop there. There’s Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer and…wait. What’s the deal with all these characters and the “Name the Something.” Just realized that. That’s kind of annoying. But, I digress. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. K-Man knows the difference between a Porsche and Prius. Moreover, he points out every Prius he sees (and given the fact that we live in an area with the highest Prius/per capita in the country…there’s lots of ‘em). He knows TiVo. He knows Crocs. Now he knows REI. And, tonight, on the aforementioned big adventure, we went to a music store. (This is the equivalent of the “kid in the candy store” or Charlie Sheen in a brothel.) K-Man LOVES guitars. So, tonight, he learned about Fender and Gibson. Almost forgot, he also knows YouTube. I don’t know if that’s all of them, but it’s certainly his Top-10 (or 11 or 12). And, that doesn’t even count fire trucks – the mother of all brands for K-Man. (Though, I’m not entirely/exactly sure that counts as a brand.) Now, before anyone starts having some kind of holier-than-thou reaction and gives me some kind of lecture about the horrors of television and the resulting brand awareness of a two-and-a-half year old, I say this: Lighten up. If you have kids the same age – or anywhere near K-Man’s age – they’re gonna grow up in a hyper-branded world. Our kids are going to be hammered with messaging at every turn. McDonald’s may have lost the latest battle to brand report cards in Florida, but that day is coming. Fact is I don’t have a problem with K-Man recognizing brands, or wearing brand names on his clothes. Fact is I think it’s kind of cool. I am, after all, a marketer by trade. I just hope he keeps liking the good stuff.